Charges against three former Penn State students for hazing a young woman were sustained Wednesday morning.
Hanif Johnson, 22, of Harrisburg, was the only defendant to hold a preliminary hearing with regard charges that he hazed former Penn State student Asya Trowell. Bianca Jeanty, 21, of Maplewood, N.J.; and Felicia Ragsdale, 22, of State College, waived their hearings.
The three are charged with simple assault and criminal conspiracy, both misdemeanors, as well as harassment, a summary offense, according to court documents.
Trowell testified at Wednesday’s hearing and told her lawyer, Scott Cooper, that while she was nervous, she was glad she went through with testifying, Cooper said.
Trowell also told Cooper that she was not surprised Johnson went through with a hearing, as he “seems to be in denial about it the whole time,” he said.
Cooper said he expects the trial to occur within the next 120-180 days, should a plea bargain not be offered before then.
Johnson maintains his innocence through his lawyer, Philip M. Masorti.
Masorti said that while he was disappointed the court held the charges against Johnson, his client didn’t violate any laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is “absolutely innocent of any wrongdoing.”
Penn State Police said that Trowell was assaulted between April 2 and April 4 while she was pledging Omega Essence, a “little sister” organization of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
Trowell was punched, slapped, kicked and struck with both wet and dry washcloths in the abdomen and legs by the defendants, police said. She was then assaulted in a field behind 842 W. Whitehall Rd. and in the basement of another house, police said.
The three defendants were expelled because they violated the sections of the Student Code of Conduct that deal with hazing/abuse/endangerment and harassment, University Spokeswoman Lisa Powers said Aug. 8.
Powers said there is no guarantee of return, but the three may petition to return to the university after one calendar year, as previously reported.